Sunderland Under-23s boss Elliott Dickman delivers verdict on Duncan Watmore's return against Middlesbrough

Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore.
Sunderland striker Duncan Watmore.
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Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman praised the professionalism of striker Duncan Watmore following the striker's return from a serious knee injury.

Watmore played 57 minutes for the Young Black Cats on Monday night during a 3-1 defeat by Middlesbrough at Eppleton CW, Hetton.

It was the 24-year-old's first competitive game for over a year and, despite missing a first-half penalty, there were plenty of positives for the forward.

"There's a lot of people behind the scenes who have invested a lot of time and effort with Duncan to this point," said Dickman after the game.

"It's been a long process and fair play to Duncan he's been very professional with it he's been smashing."

Despite his lack of competitive football, Watmore's probing runs off the ball caused problems for Boro's backline.

There were times when the forward ran into traffic and was on the receiving end of some hefty challenges - something the striker will have to adjust to in the coming weeks.

"When you've had the injury he's had it's always going to be a test and you're not going to have that until you play a competitive game," added Dickman.

"We've been quite patient with him and picked the right opportunity for him to come in and play and that was today.

"He came through it well, it was a little bit of deja vu, in his last comeback he played for us against Man City and missed a penalty in that game.

"To be fair to him he's good for the team, good for the lads and very professional and it's great for the young lads to see how he prepares and what he does."

Jack Ross was at the game and has been monitoring the striker's progress closely.

The Sunderland manager will now make a decision whether to throw Watmore back into the first team or give him another opportunity with the under-23s.

When asked if Watmore could feature for the Young Black Cats again, Dickman said: "I'm not too sure. I'll wait until the manager, the medical staff and the first-team staff sit down and have a look at the game and how he's come though it.

"It'll be a few days before they make that decision, where he goes and what he does.

"I thought his performance was good, Duncan likes to make forward runs and I thought he did that very well.

"It's just fantastic to see him back in a red and white shirt on the pitch."